Domesticated Australian and Timor zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis and Taeniopygia guttata guttata, respectively) were inoculated with canary (Serinus canaria) blood containing a Hawaiian isolate of Plasmodium relictum (lineage GRW04), a hemoparasite that causes avian malaria. In two experimental trials, TZFs but not AZFs developed parasitemia that was detected by microscopic examination of blood smears. In the second trial, in which molecular detection methods were used, a single AZF and five of six challenged TZFs were positive for the parasite. Additionally, P. relictum DNA was detected in multiple blood samples obtained from TZFs over the 28 days following challenge. TZFs may provide a useful, easily maintained, laboratory model for the study of Plasmodium interactions in passerines but are still inferior to canaries, the traditionally used model of avian malaria infection, in terms of supporting high-parasitemia infections.
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Vol. 62 • No. 4